Keyword filtering comes to MS Teams and Slack

Keyword filtering is a powerful way of streamlining exactly which requests make it into your mailbox. It’s a feature we added just a week after launching, and is incredibly popular with our customers who have email alerts enabled.

As well as email alerts – an industry staple for decades – Dot Star Media has pioneered the use of the workflow management tools MS Teams and Slack as a delivery mechanism, and it’s growing in popularity amongst our users.

Because these delivery methods are at the organisation level, they were developed only with topic filtering in mind; keywords were not considered appropriate at the global (organisation) level.

From the feedback we received, this was an incorrect assumption! Keywords are desirable when using workflow management tools.

So (and you must have known this was coming): You spoke, and we listened.

Organisation keywords are here! The page looks remarkably like your personal keyword page and it works in the same way. The only difference is the keywords entered are only used for enquiries which are delivered via MS Teams and Slack. This does make it a Gold level only feature:

While talking about keyword filtering, we have some articles on the importance of a good list, and seeing how effective your keywords are which may be of interest.

We love getting feedback about these developments. It’s your feedback which helps us plan the future of this service so please let us know what’s important to you.

Embracing AI with keyword suggestions for journalist requests

Since we opened up keyword filtering for everyone, nearly 25% of our customers are using the feature. It’s an incredibly powerful way to streamline the journalist requests you receive in your mailbox.

However, there are challenges to crafting a good keyword list: not everyone thinks the way you do.

For example: Perhaps you or your client are in the vodka making business. You’re eager to hear about opportunities for your latest summer blend, you add a keyword of ‘vodka’ to your keyword filter.

A few days later, a request comes in through Twitter which would be PERFECT for you:

Sadly it doesn’t include your magic word, so the opportunity never hits your mailbox. Gah! If only you’d thought to add ‘drink’ too.

This problem has been on our minds a lot – we’ve spent time with a number of clients working on their lists and we thought there must be a better way to do this. So we’ve been hard at work in the Dot Star Media Laboratory seeing what we can conjure up to help everyone in this situation. We think it’s ready for Prime Time and so it’s just gone live.

From today, when you add a keyword to your list, you’ll see some suggestions presented:

If you like the suggestions, add them. If not, they can be ignored. Every time you add a keyword, the total number of matching enquiries from the previous week will be displayed so you can see how effective it’ll be:

Now for the small print: We use a AI-Powered Semantic Network Robot for determining related words. Usually it does a good job, but sometimes it takes a tea-break or engages ‘Friday Mode’ and will return some silly answers. C’est la vie.*

*(if anything particularly incongruous comes up, let us know on – there might not be much we can do but all feedback helps us develop new features for you).

Whitelisting Dot Star Media

If you’re not so interested in the brief history of email delivery, we have a summary of what you should do if you’re a client available here.

On the surface, email may seem simple. You type out a message, you put in a recipient, if you’re not a Person-Of-Mystery, you’ll put a relevant subject too and click ‘send’. A few seconds later, as if by magic, your recipient hears: ‘You’ve got mail!’.

Give or take a few technical details, that’s how it used to work. It was relatively simple, and many companies ran their own email servers, and many slightly-technically-inclined people would run their own personal email server for fun – and it was good fun.

But then came the spammers (and worse). They used every trick under the sun to get you to read their emails. They’d send an email and pretend to be someone else – possibly even someone you knew – and before you knew it, as much as 90% of all email going through the pipes was spam:

image courtesy of Atlas

Something had to be done. In fact, many things were done. Over the years we saw the introduction of:

  • Sender Policy Framework (aka SPF) which told the world which email servers were allowed to send email for a specific domain.
  • Grey Listing relies on spammers being lazy and trying to send an email once and then giving up. A grey list server temporarily rejects the first email from a server for a given recipient, accepting it on subsequent attempts.
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (aka DKIM) digitally signed each email in a way which could be checked by the receiving email server to confirm it was genuinely from the owner of the sending domain.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (aka DMARC) uses a combination of SPF and DKIM to allow a receiving mail server to verify the source of the email.
  • Heuristics are used in many ways. Some apply statistical techniques to looking at an email and seeing how ‘spammy’ it is, others are based on how many messages are coming from an unknown mail server, things like that.

Dot Star Media have implemented SPF, DKIM and DMARC, but the one out of our control is heuristics – after all, we’re taking enquiries written by journalists and distributing them to you. Few people are versed in how to write something which doesn’t trigger a spam filter.

Fortunately, there’s one super easy way for you to help get our requests into your mailbox:


By ‘whitelisting’ Dot Star Media, you’re explicitly telling your email provider that you want to receive our email. That’s it. It’s entirely free and quick and easy to do. The email addresses to whitelist are and

Each email client has its own way to do this and the Whitelist Guide contains most of them. Here are the quick links for Gmail or Outlook users.

Journalist request digest

It’s been a few weeks since our last ‘you spoke, and we listened,’ post, so we’ve made this one a corker!

Here at Dot Star Media Studios, we’ve been going on and on about how much noise and spam there is on the wonderful journorequest hashtag, along with all the real gems. In the last seven days, there were 2011 ‘requests’ (that’s excluding the 6029 retweets!). Just 441 of those passed the Dot Star Media Litmus Test Of Greatness. Here’s one of our graphs to help you visualise:

With our ‘real-time alert’ emails, one request equals one email. This is superb for the hot-off-the-press nature of most journalist requests. It’s also perfect if you want to be at the head of the queue with your response. However, some of our subscribers told us ‘the service is great, but I can’t deal with so many emails!’ 

You can of course reduce this substantially by using selective topics and adding some relevant keywords. All the same, some customers were still wanting…well, less.

So, you spoke, and we listened! Dan and I are delighted to introduce Journalist Enquiry Digests. These are groups of enquiries – filtered to your topics and keywords, of course – presented in a single email and sent at pre-determined times. They look a lot like this:

The digest settings are available on your profile page, and look like this:

This should cater for even the busiest people. By the way, the morning digest includes all requests since the previous day’s last email, so you won’t miss any of the overnight action.

As always, we’d be delighted to know what you think so please send us an email, or call.

If you’ve previously had a trial but want to check this out, please drop us a line and we’ll get you set up with another brand new, totally free, no obligation trial.

See the effect of your keywords, as you add them

Since we launched keywords for everyone, it’s become one of our most-used features, providing that extra bit of noise filtering from the main topic feeds.

When choosing your keyword selection, it was difficult to see the effect it would have had; there was no indicator as to how many recent enquiries your keywords would have matched. This lead to the unfortunate situation where a couple of customers ended with a set so niche, they matched nothing.

With this feedback in mind, our weekend development was to include on the keywords page, a banner which says how many enquiries over the past few days you’d have received, if they were in place:

As you add and remove keywords, you’ll get immediate feedback on the number of enquiries matched and if you’re interested in the detail, simply click the banner to see the enquiries in full.

It’s your feedback which helps direct our development, so let us know what’s working for you, and what isn’t, and we’ll see what we can do!

Broad topics of interest

One of the goals of Dot Star Media is to make journalist requests on social media work for you.

To help businesses achieve that aim, we watch social media channels for requests from bona fide journalists, we then classify those enquiries into one or more relevant topics and then fire them off into your email, MSTeams or Slack channels.

When we designed the registration system, our goal was to make it as simple as possible to start receiving these enquiries. To start a trial, all we required was a name, email, and company name (fun fact: the very first implementation was based around per-user subscriptions so we didn’t even ask for an organisation name. On review, we quickly decided that per-company billing was the way forward so we added the extra field. I know I’ve stretched the definition of ‘fun’ there, but hey).

One of the common bits of feedback was ‘we’ve had some great requests come through but there’s a lot which aren’t relevant too.’ and that’s because when signing up for a trial, by default we were subscribing you to all 29 topics.

Dan and I talked through various options and none of them were appealing. Adding 29 checkboxes to the registration page could intimidate some (including me; I’d take one look at a form like that and find somewhere else!)

We’ve settled on adding our broad topic groupings to the registration page and we feel this is a fair balance between usability and function:

So if you choose ‘Lifestyle’, you’ll get Fashion & Beauty through to Travel & Holidays. Of course, having registered you can always fine tune your topics, or even add some keyword filters to further target your feed.

Since we put this live, we’ve seen every single person customise their topic selections, compared to just one in ten before this so we’re confident this change is improving the service for new users.

Everyone gets keywords!

When we started developing the functionality for enquiry keyword filtering, we thought it should be a Gold level feature, providing our subscribers with more reason to upgrade to our even-more-featureful top level.

We launched the feature a few weeks ago and from talking to the many people using it as part of their subscriptions or trials – and using it ourselves – it quickly became clear: everyone should have access to this.

There’s a lot of noise on #journorequest. Some days, as much as 90% of what’s posted is irrelevant, or simply spam (analysis: Dot Star Media).

From today, we’re happy to make keyword filtering available to all subscribers so you can further harness the power of Twitter, without spending all day on twitter.

keyword filters

Filter your media enquiries with keywords

Your feedback on Dot Star Media Request Service has got us working eagerly behind the scenes to bring some improvements.

Social media is a great source for media requests but with the noise – spam, spoofs and suspicious characters alongside other irrelevant posts – it can quickly become overwhelming. On average there are ~1500 posts a day to #journorequest alone; of these around only 10-15% are genuine media requests from established journalists.

#journorequest signal to noise graph

The first thing Dot Star Media has done is reduce the noise. Simply by signing up to the service you can receive the quality 15% directly to your inbox, Slack or MS Teams, identified by the relevant topic.

Some companies have provided feedback saying that whilst these per-topic requests are great, there are still a lot of requests to sort through for relevance to their clients.

This weekend we’ve taken that feedback and implemented keyword filters within your subscribed topics, meaning you can streamline your requests even further by only emailing ones which contain keywords you’re looking for. This feature is available to our ‘gold’ level subscribers and those on a trial.

How could this work in practice? If your interest is specifically around gym equipment rather than general team sports, you can subscribe to ‘Sport & Leisure’ then add some relevant keywords – e.g. ‘gym’, ‘spin class’, ‘squat rack’ – and your inbox will only go ding when there’s a sports & leisure request mentioning those keywords.

You can start using the keyword filters right away, by clicking the link from your profile page.

keyword filters

Please let us know what you think of this new feature by sending us an email.

If you’re not currently a subscriber, register now to start receiving quality enquiries right away. If you’ve previous had a trial and would like to try out this new feature, send as an email and we’ll get you up and running again.